Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 10:17 AM ET|Among the more interesting conversations I had over the last few days at the NAB Show was with Avichai Cohen, COO and co-founder of LiveU, whose lightweight mobile video uplink solution opens up all kinds of new opportunities for remote broadcasting while also saving customers lots of money. LiveU has been on my radar for some time, but this was the first opportunity I've had to see its LU-30 device. I wasn't the only one interested; their booth was buzzing with activity.
The LU-30 incorporates 6 wireless aircards from multiple cellular service providers which are bonded together to provide a high-quality on-demand video uplink. The device fits into a LiveU-provided backpack so the user is able to simply plug in their video camera and begin broadcasting remotely. Avichai explained that the company's patents focus on the bonding, load balancing and smooth delivery under highly variable circumstances. The device also takes in Ethernet and other connections if a customer wants alternative uplinks vs. wireless. The LU-30 interfaces with the LU-100 server in the studio where the video is processed for delivery to viewers.
Beyond the technology, LiveU also distinguishes itself with a simple monthly fee model of $1,500/mo for 30 hours of use, which Avichai said no customer has yet exceeded. That's a huge savings over renting a satellite or mobile uplink for $5,000/day. Even if the user is in an area where roaming charges apply, LiveU absorbs those costs so the flat monthly fee remains intact.
News and sports are the most logical applications for LiveU and Avichai said the company has added both domestic and international broadcast customers. The proliferation of live streaming events, and the trend toward multiple video captures to enhance social media and smartphone consumption, is another natural opportunity. To help penetrate the market, LiveU has partnered with companies like Livestream, Ustream and Kyte, who are in turn offering remote broadcasting as a service to their customers.
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Friday, February 19, 2010, 9:35 AM ET|
February may be the shortest month of the year, but just less than 3 weeks in, the pace of online video financings has been the hottest since I started tracking this data over a year ago. By my count there have been at least 8 financings announced this month and I suspect I've likely missed a few (please let me know if so). This week brought financings from Clicker ($11M), YuMe ($25M) and TidalTV ($16M), adding to those announced previously: Encoding.com ($1.25M), IVT ($5.5M), Voddler ($3.5M), BrightRoll ($10M) and the big whopper of the month Ustream ($75M) though this one in two tranches.Even with limited liquidity and choppy public markets, investors continue to make big bets across the online and mobile video ecosystems because of the massive shifts in consumer behaviors, business models and technology development. In 2009 I tracked at least 64 companies raising almost $470 million in the worst venture capital market in decades. Despite investors' enthusiasm, at least 2 big craters (Veoh - $70M and Joost - $45M) prove that even startups with blue-chip teams and promising headstarts can flop in this still nascent market.Update: Make that 9 financings in February, for a total of just under $150 millon, as Vook announced just today that it has raised a $2.5M round.
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Categories: Deals & Financings
Tuesday, September 15, 2009, 9:46 AM ET|
Have you noticed that live streaming video is getting more and more popular? Lately, sports in particular have been leading the charge, with live streams of PGA golf, US Open tennis, NFL football, Major League Baseball games and British soccer, among others. But sports are hardly the only area where live video streaming is taking off.
Hang out for a few minutes at LiveStream, Ustream, Stickam and Justin.tv, to name a few, and you'll see all manner of live news, talk and business shows, some of which are actually quite good. Of course, you'll also find plenty of the mundane/ridiculous, like webcams pointed mutely at someone's backyard laundry or at London's Tower Bridge. Live streaming is definitely a corner of the market where video has been democratized!
Two key catalysts for this part of the live streaming market have been mobile access (with the iPhone and other smartphones' video capture and playback driving the market) and social media/video sharing (with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others providing instant outlets). A lot of this activity is Flash-based. As both mobile and social trends gain ground, we can expect even more activity in this segment.
Aside from sports, live streaming is also gaining traction for high-profile events, with some companies moving to support this end of the market. For example, today Kyte, which positions itself as a full mobile and online video platform, is introducing "Kyte Live Pro," an add-on that allows HD live streaming from multiple sources and encoding using Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder.
I chatted with Gannon Hall, Kyte's COO yesterday, who explained that while "authentic" content - mainly short live clips - remain popular, Kyte's customers have also been asking for the ability to live stream longer-form events in HD. For example, TV Guide is using Kyte Live Pro this Sunday night to stream the Emmys red carpet pre-show online. Gannon expects other video platform companies, recognizing the opportunity, will start to offer live HD streaming as well. Swarmcast is one company I'm aware of that has made a name for itself broadcasting high-profile live events over the years. Microsoft is also putting a big push behind live, with its Smooth Streaming product.
Moving even further up-market, there's also a huge amount of live video streaming happening among enterprises, educational institutions and government agencies. These entities have much tighter requirements, often needing an on-premise, behind-the-firewall configuration for capture, broadcast and viewing, multi-location secure distribution, transcoding into various formats, integration with other network and other IT components, and mission-critical reliability.
The leader in this part of the market is a company called VBrick (according to research compiled by Frost & Sullivan), whose executives I've spoken to a couple of times recently. VBrick has over 6,000 customers in 56 countries, including 50 Fortune 500 companies, 100 Federal agencies and 900 schools, among others. The range of VBrick uses includes executive broadcasts, training and education, digital signage and surveillance and monitoring, to name a few.
VBrick deploys a hardware appliance that does video capture and transcoding into multiple formats, high-quality distribution over varied networks (LAN, WAN, Internet) and secure viewing at desktops or conference rooms. VBrick also offers "VBoss," which is a SaaS alternative for less frequent/more budget-minded users.
To date, most online video has been consumed on-demand. But this appears to be changing fast. With nearly infinite use cases and technology providers addressing all potential market segments, live video streaming appears poised for lots of growth ahead.
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